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Does whole house reverse osmosis make sense?

by Mark Timmons July 13, 2013 141 Comments

The short answer is "YES" but that doesn't mean that it is for everyone. We will consider the pros and cons of a whole-house RO system and you can decide if it is for you or not. First of all, water quality varies greatly from well water to surface water to municipal water. Well water may have things like iron, sulfur, manganese and tannin which almost always have to be removed, especially in the case of a whole-house RO system. Those contaminants must always be removed before the reverse osmosis process. Let's not forget that reverse osmosis removes the largest spectrum of contaminants at the most economical cost of any water treatment process. Essentially, a whole house reverse osmosis system will remove 98 to 99% of most contaminants including Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), sodium, chloride, sulfate, nitrate, arsenic and a plethora of other chemical and organic contaminants. One of the key ingredients to a whole house reverse osmosis system is proper per-treatment, which includes removing the iron, sulfur, manganese, tannin and other nuisance elements. So, ahead of an RO system, it is essential that filtration or oxidation of these contaminants are accomplished. If the water is hard, then it needs to be softened or (what I prefer) use an anti-scalant to prevent hard water build-up on the membranes. Anti-scalant systems are gaining popularity because no water is wasted and no salt is needed. A whole house RO system consists of the aforementioned pre-treatment, the reverse osmosis system itself, an atmospheric storage tank, a re-pressurization pump, ultraviolet light or Quantum Disinfection and sometimes a calcite filter to raise the pH or add some TDS back to the water. Here is what a city water whole-house RO system might look like:

Defender Whole House Reverse Osmosis System

Who might need a whole house reverse osmosis system? Lots of people. It could be health related in that they may want to remove as many chemicals as possible from their water. Many people have a sensitivity to such chemicals and therefore need a whole house RO system. In other cases, it may be that there are contaminants in the water that create ascetic issues such as high chlorides, sodium, sulfates and others. Sometimes we see water that has TDS levels in excess of 2,000 PPM (the USEPA recommends drinking water that is below 500 PPM). I'll grant you that the water you use to flush your toilet doesn't have to be super clean, but the amount of water used for flushing toilets in very insignificant compared to most other uses for water in your home. Washing dishes or clothes, bathing, shampooing, shaving and cleaning in clean reverse osmosis water is a pure joy. Back in the day, people used to bathe in rainwater, which is generally absolutely soft. When I was in Haiti a few years ago, we would wait for a heavy rainstorm and stand underneath a downspout plume just to enjoy a good shower. With shorts on and a bar of soap, we enjoyed every second of that shower. If taking a shower in the cleanest water on the planet, without chemicals, pesticides and hardness appeals to you, then maybe you are a candidate for a whole house reverse osmosis system. If you want to be able to drink from any faucet in the home, then maybe a whole house RO system is for you. Maybe you just want the best water possible. If so, a home whole house reverse osmosis system may just be what the doctor ordered! Cheers!

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March 31, 2014 Mark Timmons

At US Water Systems our whole house RO generally waste just 1 gallon for every 4 gallons produced and they operate at low energy (80 psi) instead of 250 psi which saves about 50% on energy and increases longivity by up to 300%.

Here you go:

April 01, 2014 Mark Timmons

Pipes don’t absorb chemicals, so once you install a RO System, just chlorinate the lines and you should be good to go.

The Pump delivers incredible pressure for you.

Here is the system I would recommend, but we need to know more about your water:

April 07, 2014 Mark Timmons

Absolutely, send them!

April 08, 2014 Mark Timmons

We have pricing on everything on our website. Before I can price anything I would need to know what kind of water you have, how many people and how many bathrooms and other information.

I would recommend you call us at 800-608-8792 to discuss your needs.

April 09, 2014 Mark Timmons

We have dealt with this doezens of times. In most cases a whole-house system works well, but BEFORE you buy the house, I would advise you to spend on this test:

BECAUSE, just one time (1 time) the cost to fix the water was over $150,000.00! It was worse trhan sea water. Knowledge is power. Get a water test first.

April 10, 2014 Mark Timmons

It depends upon what else is in the water, along with competing contaminants. Do you have a water analysis?

April 13, 2014 Mark Timmons

We have a new line of whole house RO systems coming out next week that start at $5,995 and do not require a water softener. This is probably the best-designed system on the market for this type of application. How many bathrooms and how many in the family?

April 14, 2014 Mark Timmons

From what I see, you would be an excellent candidate for whole house reverse osmosis, but it has to be done right.

Do you have any odor in the water?

April 17, 2014 Mark Timmons

The only way to do what you want is with a whole house reverse osmosis system. Our systms are up to 75% efficient, which means that they only waste 1 gallon for every 4 gallons made. It would be cheaper to likely seperate the irrigantion water and use a wh0le house RO for the rest. RO is the only way to lower the TDS.

April 18, 2014 Mark Timmons

In most cases, it is fine to drain into the septic tank, depending upon the water quality. I would need to know more about before your water before commenting.

April 20, 2014 Mark Timmons


Next time you buy a car, washer, stove, refrigerator or some other appliance, ask for a performance warranty. Tell me how that goes. There are 38,000 possible contaminants that can be in water and the relationships between them can affect performance. If you are willing to spend $3,000 on detailed analytical testing, I will give you an unconditional warranty. As it is, we do have a performance warranty.

Only an idiot or a charlatan (who plans to take your money and run) would give you that kind of warranty. What if the city messes up and has 5 ppm of chlorine or chloramine in the water? How can we remove that amount at 97% to 98%? The real answer is that you can’t. It is impossible to do unless you are going to put about six carbon filters in line.

Let me educate you a little bit: The water treatment industry is deceptive in the way they rate and certify things. For instance, when testing for chloramine or chlorine removal, they take RO water and add the contaminant. There are no other competing contaminants to prevent the process from working. However, in the real world, the contaminants are many and varied and what is tested at 98% in a controlled lab environment with RO water may be only 30% effective in the real world.

Think about that for a minute…

I am simply speaking the truth.

April 21, 2014 Mark Timmons


A water softener will not remove chloride… or chlorine for that matter. You could be a candidate for Whole House RO, but I would need to see a detailed analysis of your water. Do you have that?

April 22, 2014 Mark Timmons

You may be able to use your existing equipment, but we would need a couple things:

1. Photos of your system;
2. A detailed water analysis.

We would be happy to provide a quote. RO may be the solution, but we would need more info.

April 25, 2014 Mark Timmons

Probably $6 to $8 a month.

April 26, 2014 Intec America

Yes whole house reverse osmosis system makes sense now also as it saves lot of cost. Reverse osmosis is a filtration process that forces your water through a series of fine membranes. The main reason for installing reverse osmosis systems in homes is to provide clean drinking water for families.

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